Alabama Rental Law by prettytulips


									               ALABAMA LAW INSTITUTE

                         Uniform Residential
                       Landlord and Tenant Act

                           December 2002

Advisory Committee

James M. “Buddy” Tingle, Chairman   William F. Horsley
LaVeeda Morgan Battle               Ben Johnson
Professor Carol Brown               Professor David Langum
Greggory M. Deitsch                 John V. Lee
Fred T. Enslen                      William Z. Messer
Jack Floyd                          H. Floyd Sherrod, Jr.
William J. Gamble                   Jerry Wood

        The Alabama Law Institute presents to the Institute membership for consideration
and constructive criticism, the following proposed act. As “the official advisory law
revision, law reform and legal research agency of the State of Alabama” the Institute will
be recommending this proposed act to the Alabama Legislature.

        In the last few Years several bills have been introduced in the Alabama
Legislature concerning landlord-tenant law. The approach taken by these bills has been
quite diverse and resulted in a request by the Legislature that the Alabama Law Institute
undertake a study of residential landlord-tenant laws. A committee was formed, chaired
by James M. Tingle of Birmingham which held its first meeting in September of 2001.
For more than a year this committee met to draft a statute for Alabama. Alabama is one
of the few states in the nation that does not currently have a landlord-tenant law. The
committee used as it guide, the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act drafted by the
National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1972. This Act has
been adopted in 20 states.

        This booklet sets forth a Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, using the Uniform
Act as a model, with modifications to meet Alabama’s requirements. As the result of an
Institute drafting committee comprised of lawyers, some of whom represent landlords,
others who represent tenants, and those who represent both, present this Act with
Alabama comments. Alabama comments have been added to identify where Alabama’s
Act has changed the Uniform Act.

                                   Bob McCurley
                                   Director, Alabama Law Institute

December 5, 2002

                              Alabama ARISE Overview

This act concerns landlord-tenant relationships under rental agreements for residential
purposes. The Act does not apply to rental agreements made for commercial, industrial,
agricultural or any purpose other than residential. This act only affects the rights and
responsibilities that arise out of the landlord-tenant relationship. Other duties between
parties remain unchanged and are governed apart from this bill.

Article I - General Provisions
   A. Excluded from coverage is a residence in an institution, public or private, where
       the residence is incidental to another primary purpose such as a residence in a
       prison, hospital, nursing home, dormitory owned and operated by a university or a
       residence by a landlord’s employee such as a custodian or caretaker. Nor does this
       act apply to transient occupancy, fraternities, hotels, owners of condominiums, or
       property rented primarily for agricultural purposes.

   B. A dwelling unit is defined to include a manufactured home that is rented as a

Article II – Landlord Obligations
   A. A landlord cannot demand a security deposit in excess of one month’s rent except
       for pets, changes to the premises or increased risks to the premises.

   B. Upon termination of the lease, the landlord must refund any unused security
      deposit within 21 days. Failure to do so will allow the tenant to recover twice the
      amount due plus reasonable attorney’s fees.

   C. Landlords must (1) comply with the requirements of applicable building and
      housing codes materially affecting health and safety; (2) make all repairs and do
      whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a habitable condition; (3)
      keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition; (4) maintain
      in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary,
      heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including
      elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord; (5) provide and
      maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of garbage,
      rubbish, and other waste (6) supply reasonable heat, running water, and
      reasonable amounts of hot water at all times.

Article III - The tenant’s responsibilities

   A. A tenant may not prevent a landlord from entering the dwelling to inspect the
      premises; make necessary or agreed upon repairs; or to show the dwelling unit.

   B. Unless otherwise agreed, the tenant may only use the premise as a dwelling unit.

   C. Tenants must (1) comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by
      applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health
      and safety; (2) keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as
      clean and safe as the condition of the premises permits; (3) dispose from his
      dwelling unit all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste in a clean and safe
      manner; (4) keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant
      as clear as their condition permits; (5) use in a reasonable manner all electrical,
      plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities and
      appliances including elevators; (6) not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface,
      damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any
      person to do so; (7) conduct himself and require other persons on the premises
      with his consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb his
      neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.

Article IV - Remedies
  A. Landlords or tenants may terminate the lease for a material non-compliance
       (failure to make repairs, pay rent, etc.) within at least 14 days’ written notice that
       specifies the breach and the date of termination of the rental agreement if the
       breach is not remedied within that period.

   B. Tenants may not terminate the lease for a condition caused by themselves, their
      family or someone on the premises with their consent.

   C. Tenants may repair and deduct. If the landlord fails to comply with the rental
      agreement or any of his responsibilities, and the reasonable cost of compliance is
      less than an amount equal to one-half of one-month’s rent, the tenant may recover
      damages for the breach or may notify the landlord of his intention to correct the
      condition at the landlord’s expense. If the landlord does not comply within seven
      days after being notified in writing or as promptly as conditions require in the
      case of an emergency, the tenant may cause the work to be done and after
      submitting an itemized receipt or bill, deduct from the next due rent the actual and
      reasonable cost not including the tenant’s own labor.

   D. Tenants may not repair and deduct for a condition caused by themselves, their
      family or someone on the premises with their consent.

   E. Landlords can repair and add. (p. 47) Section 4.202 Failure to Maintain:
      If there is noncompliance by the tenant with Section 3.101(this section is the list of tenant
      obligations) materially affecting health and safety that can be remedied by repair,
      replacement of a damaged item, or cleaning, and the tenant fails to comply as promptly
      as conditions require or within 7 days after written notice by the landlord specifying the
      breach and requesting that the tenant remedy it within that period of time, the landlord
      may enter the dwelling unit and cause the work to be done in a workmanlike manner and
      submit the itemized bill for the actual and reasonable cost or the fair and reasonable
      value thereof as rent on the next date periodic (periodic means monthly or weekly) rent is
      due, or if the rental agreement has terminated, for immediate payment.
   F. If a landlord unlawfully removes the tenant from the premises or willfully cuts off
      utilities, the tenant may recover possession or terminate the lease. But in either

        case, the tenant may recover an amount not more than three months’ rent or three
        times the actual damages sustained, whichever is greater, plus reasonable
        attorney’s fees. If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall return all
        recoverable security deposits and all unused prepaid rent.

    G. If the landlord willfully or negligently fails to promptly supply an essential
       service after receiving notice of the breach from the tenant, the tenant can (1) send
       a written notice specifying the date of termination and upon vacation of the
       premises, the rental agreement shall be rightfully terminated without further
       obligation or penalty, or (2) recover damages based upon the diminution in the
       fair rental value of the dwelling unit or (3) secure reasonable substitute housing
       during the period of noncompliance, in which case the tenant is excused from
       paying rent for this period. Additionally, the tenant may recover the actual and
       reasonable cost or fair and reasonable value of the substitute housing not in excess
       of an amount equal to the monthly rent and the tenant may recover reasonable
       attorney’s fees. If the tenant pursues these options, the tenant may not use the
       options listed in bullets 1 and 3 under this section.

    H. A landlord can’t place a lien on a tenant’s property, if the tenant abandons the
       dwelling or leaves property in the rental unit for more than 14 days after the lease
       is terminated, the landlord has no duty to store the tenant’s property and may
       dispose of it without obligation.

        a) A landlord’s actions for evictions, rent, monetary damages, and/or other relief
           shall be subject to the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure and the Alabama
           Rules of Appellate Procedure – 14 days to answer, 14 days to appeal.

        b) Currently, landlords in Birmingham use the Sanderson Act (7 days to answer,
           1 day to appeal) and landlords in the rest of the state use the unlawful detainer
           statute (14 days to answer, 14 days to appeal). Both the Sanderson Act and the
           unlawful detainer statue will no longer be applicable to residential tenancies if
           this bill becomes law.

Article V –Retaliatory Conduct

    A. The landlord cannot retaliate by discriminately increasing rent or decreasing
       services when the tenant has complained about a violation of a building and
       housing code or lack of habitability. Further, the landlord may evict only for
       good cause. Good cause includes a failure of the tenant to pay rent and comply
       with building and housing code requirements.

Effective Date: The act will become effective January 1, 2004 and applies to rental agreements entered
into or extended or renewed on or after that date.


To top